Softball stays hot, sweeps WPI

Junior pitcher Katelyn Shepard delivers a pitch against the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Goats on Tuesday at Campus West. The Leopards won the doubleheader, 4-1 and 14-7. They stand 10-2 overall and 2-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. / photo by William Zeus Hardy
Junior pitcher Katelyn Shepard delivers a pitch against the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Goats on Tuesday at Campus West. The Leopards won the doubleheader, 4-1 and 14-7. They stand 10-2 overall and 2-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. / photo by William Zeus Hardy

Eric Esquibel
Staff Writer

The La Verne softball team handed Worcester Polytechnic Institute their first losses of the season in a double-header Tuesday evening at Campus West, 4-1 and 14-7. 

The Leopards improve to 10-2 on the 2022 season and currently have a record of 2-1 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. 

In the first game against the Goats, the Leopards’ defense held up as junior pitcher Rachel Rubio held WPI to only one run and four hits. 

“Starting off that first game, getting that first pitch strike and coming in with two strikeouts that first inning, I knew I was kind of hot today,” Rubio said. “I was feeling that all my pitches were really working, my curves were really working and it was really breaking. I knew I could get them swinging on a lot of them so I felt very good.” 

In the second game, the first run came from sophomore center fielder Haylee Hseih after a hit from junior catcher Natalia Aguilera. Following the hit from Aguilera, senior utility player Kathryn Navarro and freshman catcher Alyssa Campbell slugged back-to-back home runs. 

This was just the start of the Leopards’ large lead against WPI. Freshman right fielder Ashley Rodriguez singled down to left field and a Hseih double allowed the Leopards to finish the first inning with a 7-0 lead. 

Hseih finished the game 1-for-3 with a double and one RBI, getting her 19th hit on the season with 18 runs. 

“I’m pretty proud of my performance this year,” she said. “I have been working very hard during practice so I am really happy to see it translated onto the field this year. I am really excited for this season. I really think we have a chance of getting a ring this season so hopefully it carries on.” 

Then in the second inning, the Leopards added on four more runs and held WPI to one run, pushing their lead to 11-1. 

In the following innings, the Leopards allowed the Goats to slowly catch up. They scored six more runs to narrow the Leopards’ lead to 11-7 in the top of the sixth. 

“It’s a whole team effort, you win as a team, you lose as a team and we have to get better,” head coach Dennis Blas said. “We can’t have 11-1 leads and give it up, that just can’t happen if you want to be a champion.” 

In the bottom of the sixth inning the Leopards quickly responded, adding on three more runs and stopping the Goats’ chance of coming back. The last hit was a double by Aguilera, driving in sophomore second baseman Mia Pintado to score the last run for a 14-7 lead. 

Aguilera finished the game 3-for-3, with two RBIs and one run scored. This season Aguilera has a batting average of .563 and an on-base percentage of .559. 

“(My performance) this season so far, so good. But I definitely still get hard on myself,” Aguilera said. “The first game (against WPI), I did not get on base at all but I know my potential. So I just go back to thinking and tell myself to breathe or relax and not get in my head. I think the mentality of just breathing, relaxing, and having fun plays a role in how I play now.”

The Leopards look to continue their five-game win streak in a doubleheader against the Rochester Yellow Jackets on Thursday at Campus West. Then they will host Carnegie Mellon for a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Friday. 

Eric Esquibel can be reached at eric.esquibel@laverne.edu

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Eric Esquibel, a senior broadcast journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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William Zeus Hardy, a senior photography major, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. His work can also be found at williamhardy.mypixieset.com.

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